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23 Projects Face Closure After Green Panel Cancels Environment Ministry's Clearances

The NGT order is likely to lead to closing down of many projects in Gujarat and other parts of the country where environment procedures were violated

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At least 23 industries in Gujarat face closure after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench in Pune struck down the environment clearance procedure adopted between 1998 and 2003 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in approving the projects.

The NGT order is likely to lead to closing down of many projects in Gujarat and other parts of the country where environment procedures were violated.

These industrial units were granted "ex-post-facto environmental clearances" - meaning the approvals were received after production started rather than before the facilities were set up.

The NGT declared "ex-post-facto clearances" as illegal in a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in 2003 by Rohit Prajapati of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti and Ziya Pathan of People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL).

As per a circular dated 13 March 2003 of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, there were 213 such defaulting industries, the National Alliance of People's Movements said in a press release.

In their legal challenge, the petitioners raised the issue of not only the illegality of setting up of projects without environmental approvals but also the dangers these industries posed to the environment and public health.

The NGT order dated January 8 noted that the process of 'ex-post facto' of obtaining environmental clearances by defaulting units was "just a farce, stage managed, wrong and impermissible under the law and suffered from illegality, which is incurable in any manner."